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Hitler's GeographiesThe Spatialities of the Third Reich$
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Paolo Giaccaria and Claudio Minca

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226274423

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226274560.001.0001

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Hello Darkness: Envoi and Caveat

Hello Darkness: Envoi and Caveat

(p.299) 14 Hello Darkness: Envoi and Caveat
Hitler's Geographies

Andrew Charlesworth

University of Chicago Press

How are we to connect with the Shoah today? This chapter engages with this question by proposing a travel through the dark geographies of the Holocaust and by reflecting on how these are remembered or not. It does so by implying several rhetorical tools, including a deliberatively provocative stream of consciousness often focused on place-naming as applied to extermination sites and camps: “What is Auschwitz? Where is Auschwitz? When will the Poles recover Oswiecim? When they choose to have their dead cremated? Crematories are not likely to be built in Polish towns this side of a hundred years.” The topography of death we tend to ignore when we read accounts of the destruction of European Jewry is what this chapter tries to recall and challenge. And the final provocative conclusion, where it is claimed that nature should take over Birkenau, and return the sacred birch grove, is a key response to that topological challenge, in order to try to close up the wound of the Shoa and cancel forever the ‘geometric maleness’ of genocide and extermination that made it possible.

Keywords:   Holocaust sites, genocide geography, Auschwitz, topologies of memory, topographies of horror

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